Robin Amy Bass

WORLDS APART COLLIDE

He watches worlds apart collide.
He says he can no longer hide.
He has learned to compartmentalize.
I hear the pain that’s in his eyes.

Separate and collate, too,
I have learned to do it too.
Woke up screaming in the night,
Misfiled, something wasn’t right.

Buried deep and out of view,
No one saw and no one knew.
Well, maybe just a sacred few.
I know, I have been there too.

May have been a different dream,
But like yours, it made me scream.
So I learned to put away,
All the things I could not say.

Tapes stored in a plastic case.
Press the button that says erase.
Cover up the gap and space.
Draw a curtain made of lace.

Never let them see the pain.
Learn to play another game.
Change your clothes! Go buy a hat.
Snap your fingers! Gone like that.

Sometimes daydreams visit him
He tries hard not to not give in
He was never one to hide
Or back down or stand aside

Wake up screaming in the night,
Misfiled, dreaming – it’s not right.
“Worlds collide inside of me.”
Worlds kept under lock and key.

Worlds collide in side of him
Sink holes want to swallow him
Visions that were stored away
Safely where he thought they’d stay

Ask him to come out and play.
War torn stories folded up
One loud bang and they wake up
Worlds collide and just erupt

Devastate and just disrupt
All his hopes have been debased
There’s a look comes on his face
Struggles to pick up the pace
He runs standing in one place
Say he may not last the race

Why should heroes be disgraced?
Nothings in its proper place
Experts try to state their case&.
Everyone can be replaced.
Some things cannot be erased.

“Sometimes daydreams visit me.
I can run, but I can’t flee,
From my past. I don’t know why,
I’m exhausted but I try

To move on. I tell myself,
Poster child for mental health.
Shakes his head and winks at me
That is what I will learn to be,
If I survive these memories.”

Some think I am organized.
I’ve just learned how to disguise,
Who I am, and where I’ve been.
I have learned to live with sin.
Maybe I should pack it in.

Worlds collide and walls fall down.
I am lying on the ground.
Run for cover, duck, and hide,
Still I see my worlds collide.

Wake up shaking in the night,
Another dream that soon takes flight.
Worlds collide, as I recover,
Pray that I don’t have another,

Nightmare, so I stay awake.
I am learning how to fake.
All is well! Things are great.
Worlds apart – This is my fate.

I keep dreaming. I break free.
Someone crashes into me.
Worlds collide and I discover,
Skeletons like cheating lovers,
Pop up when I least expect.
Corpses never show respect.
Ghosts return – I have spied.
Maybe I’m the one who’s died.
EXPERTS TELL ME WHAT I SEE!
Diagnose it – PTSD –
Bet their glad that they’re not me.

Sometimes I am moved to tears.
I have no label for these fears.
In my soul, I think he peers.
I see exactly what he hears.

Still there is a side of me,
Says that I must let it be.
Worlds apart, yet I’ve the urge,
To see if our worlds can merge.

Through the joy and through the tears,
I have loved this man for years.
In his soul I try to peer,
He sees exactly what I hear.

Take the best – leave the rest.
So self-righteous, they suggest.
What a shame – It’s such a waste.
Everyone can be replaced.

Still my hopes seem to revive.
After all, we’re still alive.
And I’m sitting by his side
Eyes wide open – Worlds collide.

It feels like eternity.
Won’t you come and dance with me?
Guess then we’d have two left feet.
With two rights, we’d be complete
Grab my hand and match my stride.
Laugh as our worlds collide.

The Story behind the Poem

People often ask me, how it came to be that Tim and I resumed our relationship after a 17-year hiatus. I blame it on technology. The internet was cast in the roll of cupid. It’s even more ironic to think, that my now ex-husband had to beg me to purchase a computer. “What the hell do we need that for?” was my initial response.
Well, I soon found out the answer to that one.

It took me awhile to warm up to the HP Desk Top Computer with the Sony Screen. But once I discovered Real Player and “A dollar a download”, I thawed out fast. I love mixing my own CD’s and sending them to people. I dubbed my desk top PURE POSITIVE ENERGY, The day I discovered EBay, there was no turning back. Today I use PPE for everything from banking to shopping, and of course, writing. I do most of my writing on PPE, but sometimes I switch over to one of my two laptops, Raven or Blondie. Yes, I know it’s strange. But, I have no children or pets, so I name all of my gadgets.

After initial our break up (back in ‘88), Tim, and I kept in touch sporadically. Still, we always managed to call each other on our birthdays and around holiday time.
During one phone conversation, he mentioned he had been ill. He did not go into too many details. Even when we had been a couple, Tim had not been too forthcoming about his personal life. I am the exact opposite. I tell everybody everything. I ask everybody everything. When Tim told me he had health problems, I didn’t pursue. I jokingly told him, “Now that I’m not your girlfriend, you can tell me anything. Who am I going to tell?”

All he said was, “Robin, you don’t want to know.”

One day I called Tim to invite him to my wedding. He begged off, saying he hadn’t been feeling too well. He also said that he did not want to watch me walk down the aisle. It’s too bad I didn’t pay more attention to what he was saying. I have never been much of a “between the lines” person. And Tim was not spelling anything out. The wedding went on as planned, and Tim retreated from my mind for a while.

Sometime during the first year of my marriage, Tim and I had both begun to “blog”. It makes me chuckle, because I know Tim had no idea that that is what he was doing; Just yesterday, he asked me what a “Blog” is. A couple of years before the “Blogs”, I had encouraged Tim to start writing again. One day, I was on-line at MyDearDiary and I saw a familiar name pop up. It wasn’t his real name, but I recognized Tim’s thinly veiled AKA immediately. It didn’t take him long to track me down either. I put Tim on my favorite list and looked forward to his updates.

In fact, it was in one of his entries, that I learned he had been in Vietnam.

Initially, I was shocked by his admission. To me, Tim had always been a “downtown rock and roller”. I was the “uptown girl”. I really had not known many people who went to Vietnam. I thought back to a man who lived out in Westhampton. I was 27 when I met Ray. He was known as Ray the Plant Man. Basically; he lived in an isolated section of this trendy resort town. It was a seasonal friendship, because he was a year round resident, and I only went out during the summertime. My then boyfriend, Jerry, warned me about Ray. “Ray was Special Forces in Nam. Don’t ever get him upset. He looks real calm but he can do serious damage to you, if he wants to.” I looked at this gentle person, who grew great marijuana, and told wonderful jokes and really couldn’t picture this at all. Any time, any one would allude to Vietnam, Ray changed the subject.

Ray put me up at his place, when I had a huge argument with Jerry. He was a perfect gentleman. He consoled me as best he could, and then offered me several joints and a Quaalude. As I was falling asleep on the sofa, Ray threw a blanket over me, and said, “Robin, Please don’t be alarmed if I wake up in the middle of the night or talk in my sleep. Just ignore me. Sometimes I have bad dreams. I try to keep things separate, but sometimes I am mixed up. Like I forget where I am.”

“That’s what happens to me, and in the morning all the ice cream is gone.” I said.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Ray smiled, and blew out the candle that flickered on the living room coffee table.

I had forgotten about that conversation until recently. Now I think I finally understand what he meant. One of the first questions I asked Tim was “Why didn’t you tell me? Didn’t you trust me?”

Tim said, “For many years, I didn’t even tell myself. I tried to put it away, as if it was a separate world or something. Robin, you have to remember, Vietnam wasn’t a popular war. We were spit on. Nobody had those yellow “Support Our Troops” magnets plastered all over their cars. More often than not, people would call me a baby killer.”

Another day back in the fall, Tim looked from the TV and shook his head. “I wonder if anybody else sees the irony.”

“What” I asked.

Tim said, “Today, there’s a Presidential election going on, and the Democratic Candidate has to prove that he actually deserved the medal they gave him. And his opponent has to prove that he was actually, where he said he was, instead of out drinking. Now it is politically correct to have been in Vietnam. All of a sudden, I’m in fashion.

It wasn’t like that for us back then. I enlisted. I became a Marine. I served my country. I fought communists. I took women and children from tarmacs and got them into planes and safety. I was shot at. I was wounded. My brothers were hurt, killed, or came back with missing parts. I saw my friends get blown away. And I came home and they called me a baby killer… so I learned to shut up. And I learned to forget, and I just learned to separate things. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve lived a few different lives.”

“Like a Cat?” I said.

He gave that look of his, “I’m not sure I always land on my feet”

There are some big differences between Tim and me, on many levels. He is extremely organized. He has this great neat little handwriting, which makes me laugh because he is 6’2. That’s a favorite difference of mine. The height! I’m 5’4. There is always more than enough of Tim to go around. Because he was the chief engineer in charge of several syndicated radio shows for many years, everything had to be in its proper place. I suppose Marines have to be organized also. Now I understood where he got a lot of his training. (He also makes a great bed!)

I was the manger of a 24-track recording studio, when I met Tim. He was a client. This was in 1979. In order to do my job properly, I was forced to hone my organizational skills. This runs contrary to my basic instincts. I have a natural tendency to fly by the seat of my pants. My handwriting is big, sprawling, and mostly illegible. Tim and I have always maintained separate residences. At home, Tim puts everything away. He cleans as he goes; dishes are done after each meal. If you ask him where the dishwasher is, he’ll say, “You’re lookin’ at him.” My response? “That’s good, because I don’t do dishes or windows!”

I like everything out where I can see it. My dishes pile up in the sink, “soaking” before I put them in the dishwasher. Everything is out in the open. I have a huge Vinyl Record and CD collection. I display many of my collectible vinyl records, in frames on the walls. It’s art to me. I own over 300 pairs of shoes. “Stilettos Rock – Shoes Before Men” is a saying I invented. Last year I gave out Bumper stickers with those slogans. When my husband left, he took the books. I kept the bookcases. I use them to display my high heels. One can never have too much art. Only my clothes are hung up in huge wardrobes and color co-coordinated, but this is done so I can move through my day swiftly.

I wake up early. Because I sell furniture, and work retail hours, I am always on a tight schedule, whereas Tim likes to sleep late. He says he’s retired. I almost never make my bed. I leave it for the housekeeper, Clara, who comes in every other Wednesday. I give in if company is coming, but even then, I try to schedule visits, right after Clara has finished cleaning.

Even with all these differences, Tim and I have a lot in common. And I’m not talking about our mutual love of the Beatles or The Yankees. I’m not talking about being the same age, or childless.

Last year, Tim wrote an entry in his diary called “Worlds Apart Collide.” I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but I’m always stealing Tim’s titles. Last year, Tim mentioned that he always wanted to write a song called “My Car Is Driving Me Crazy.” I said, “So write it!” He said, “Nah, I’m retired!” So I said, “Well, then maybe I will.”
I was kidding, but the next morning, this little blues number popped out of my head – I wrote it in 5 minutes going up the elevator. I posted it on my diary… and waited for Tim to react. I was relieved when he loved the song.

For a while, he would joke that he liked the system that was developing. He would come up with a title and I would write the song. Imagine me, a detail man?

The last time I stole one of Tim’s titles, I reminded him that literary titles couldn’t be copyrighted, only content. Tim just arched a brow, and said, “Good, wait until you read my version of War and Peace.”

Recently, I re-read his “Worlds Apart Collide” entry. I like to re-read older entries, (mine, and his) and see where I was then… where I am now. At first, I had visions of Mars and the Moon and the planet Earth crashing into each other but then I thought, ‘I have been through many changes too. I was in the music industry or “show biz” as my boss would say. I left and became a sales person. I have had my own struggles with alcohol and drug addiction.

I have lived in a penthouse, but I’m no stranger to the windowless basements. Alcoholism can lead you to a lot of strange places. There are many ways to hit bottom. In recovery, I learned to separate my worlds. While I still love spontaneity, as I get older, I am beginning to learn the lesson my mother tried to teach me. (I hate to admit it too) Most of the time, it’s just easier to function in life, if everything has a proper place; parents over there – friends over here; that kind of thing. Apparently, over the years, Tim has learned to do the same thing.’

But what happens, when the memories take on a life of their own?

Although I have stopped drinking, I still have drunk dreams. And though Tim tries to tell him it’s over and done, PTSD and Nam Nights show up uninvited whenever they feel like it.

And of course, there is the 17-year gap that Tim and I are trying to bridge. Sometimes I’m not sure who or what is colliding into whom.’

So that is my poem… and the story behind it!